Puerto Vallarta A Tropical Oasis On The Challenger Tour
Work hard. Play hard.
It's a simple philosophy, but one that is at the core of the Puerto Vallarta Open presentado por La Afición. On the ATP Challenger Tour, the most successful tournaments often feature a common thread: engage the fans with an elite tennis showcase in a premier setting. Both on and off-court entertainment creates a first-rate experience in a festive atmosphere.
In Puerto Vallarta, they have taken that concept to the next level, making it a world-class experience for the players as well. With the radiant sun glistening off the majestic Mexican waters, it's easy to mistake the tournament for a relaxing week at the beach. But that's exactly what tournament founders Javier Romero, David Davila and Javier Ramirez have in mind.
Those competing on the Challenger circuit are battling every week for critical ATP Rankings points and prize money, as they seek to take the next step in their careers. But it can't always be about the forehands and backhands. Mental and emotional breaks are a crucial element to success between the lines. In Puerto Vallarta, they understand that and have gone above and beyond to 'make it unforgettable', as their motto says.
"I like it here," said third seed Peter Polansky. "It's a pretty nice tournament and you feel like you're practically on vacation. The hotel is a resort and it doesn't get much nicer. It would be nice if there were more tournaments that made more of an effort to be this good. All in all, I think many events can use this as a standard. They set the bar here.
"Weeks where you're staying on the water is few and far between. I didn't expect it to be this good. It's a nice event to come relax and training wise it's good as well, because it gets pretty hot during the day. It's pretty hot here and you can see during the day that conditions really test you."
It's no wonder that the tournament brought home 2018 ATP Challenger of the Year honours. But the fact that they achieved the feat in their first edition is a testament to the hard work, passion and dedication of all tournament organisers and staff. This week, as they look to ascend to even greater heights, the Puerto Vallarta Open presentado por La Afición was presented with the award in front of a packed stadium court.
Between the lines, the attention to detail in Puerto Vallarta is exceptional. The pre-match walk-ons are akin to the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2, with fog machines, flashing lights and rock music greeting the night session competitors. The players are treated like rock stars and the fans are given an up-close view of the action in an intimate setting. A full-service VIP section nestles up to the sideline, with Mexican fare and Siete Leguas tequila flowing from first ball to last.
Away from Parque Parota, signage is plastered throughout the city and radio and TV spots abound throughout the month leading up to the tournament, encouraging both locals and tourists to visit the event. In addition, MegaCable TV broadcasts every evening for both night session matches, with three commentators calling the action.
"We've never been treated so well than we are here," said Carlos Gomez-Herrera, a semi-finalist in 2018. "I've been looking forward to coming back. The conditions are very nice and the stadiums are packed from the first day. We have amazing facilities and especially with the direction of the tournament, they try to bring us their best. That's something we look forward to every year. It's the second edition and hopefully they have many more."
For players criss-crossing the globe and spending countless hours on the court and in the gym, it's essential to find the right balance of work and play. In Puerto Vallarta, they understand the rigours of life on tour and are redefining the culture of a tournament. An oasis on the Challenger circuit, the tournament is located steps from the Bahía de Banderas (Bay of Flags), just off the Pacific Ocean.
Supported by the tourism bureau of Puerto Vallarta, the tournament provides world-class hospitality, including activities around the city. Players stay at the beachfront Sheraton Buganvilias Resort, with five restaurants, two massive outdoor pools, four practice courts and two gyms. The best part: it's all-inclusive. Above all, players love free food and the ability to disconnect from the world, and the Puerto Vallarta staff has ensured that.
Nestled between the blue waters of the Pacific and the towering Sierra Madre mountains, the natural surroundings provided the perfect backdrop for a tournament. With the opportunity to fight for ATP Rankings points while savouring the sun and scenery, players took full advantage.
A sunset boat cruise with a live Mariachi band shuttled players around the Bahía de Banderas on the eve of the tournament. Later in the week, one of the city's most popular dance clubs hosted a vibrant player party, providing an ideal escape for those looking to toss aside their racquets and take in the local culture. On Monday, Santiago Giraldo, Danilo Petrovic and Adrian Menendez-Maceiras took a five-hour excursion to a secluded location, where they enjoyed a horseback ride in the mountains, took a dip at a waterfall, went snorkling in the bay and devoured a five-course meal.
"I'm obviously glad to be back in Puerto Vallarta, because this is where I reached my first Challenger final," said Petrovic. "I won the doubles title also with my Croatian friend Ante Pavic. I have great memories of the people, the food, the organisation, and everyone involved with this event."
Once a mining town in the 19th century called 'Las Peñas', Puerto Vallarta emerged when miners from the Sierra Madre needed a port in the bay to load and unload various products. The city soon became an integral hub for agricultural, fishing and forestry activities. Now, with a diverse multi-cultural identity, it also boasts a growing art scene and an exotic habitat with hundreds of species of birds and wildife, in addition to its thriving sports culture.
With the tournament fast becoming the standard on the ATP Challenger Tour, it has already established itself as an integral piece of the tennis landscape in not only Puerto Vallarta, but Mexico as a whole.